MUMBAI, India, May 6 (AP) — One of India's biggest and most popular movie stars, Salman Khan, was sentenced to five years in jail Wednesday on charges of running over five men sleeping on a sidewalk and killing one in a hit-and-run case that has dragged for more than 12 years.
Judge D. W. Deshpande of the Mumbai Sessions court earlier Wednesday convicted Khan of culpable homicide.
The 49-year-old actor was also given separate terms for negligent driving and causing grievous harm to the victims. All the sentences would run concurrently, defense lawyers said.
Khan plans to file an appeal for bail, said his lawyer, Srikant Shivade.
He was scheduled to start starting serving the sentence in a Mumbai prison later Wednesday, Shivade said.
The prosecution told the court that Khan was drunk when he rammed his SUV into a group of homeless people, sleeping on a sidewalk in September 2002.
Khan has all along denied that he was behind the wheel. In April, his driver Ashok Singh told the court that he was driving and lost control of the SUV when one its tires burst.
But Judge Deshpande dismissed the actor's claim and accused him of driving the car under the influence of alcohol then fleeing.
Khan also faces trial in a separate case for allegedly killing two rare deer in a western India wildlife preserve 16 years ago.
He is one of Bollywood's most popular stars, appearing in more than 90 Hindi-language films in his 27-year career.
Huge crowds had gathered outside Khan's house in south Mumbai for a glimpse of the star as he emerged from his apartment block surrounded by security guards.
Scores of television crews and reporters followed the actor's car and thronged the building as the court gave its verdict in a case that has been closely watched by millions of Khan's fans in India and abroad.
Khan began his career in 1988, playing the romantic action hero with many of his movies becoming box office hits. He is well-known as a generous star who in recent years has turned to philanthropy. He has established a charitable trust called "Being Human," which works in education and health care for the poor.
Bollywood filmmakers were worried about the court case as Khan has several films in the pipeline. Film industry analysts said Khan had projects worth 2.5 billion rupees ($40 million) depending on him.